Careful now: this is where you risk turning a beautiful sear into char, turning that red gold into a grey-brown knob of rubber.
Now it’s time to talk smoke, a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, AND various nitrogen oxides, including nitric oxide. These gases, particularly carbon monoxide and nitric oxide, react with the myoglobin to give meat that beautiful, pink smoke ring that aficionados leer at with mixtures of gluttony and envy.
Like the Maillard reaction, smoke is a complex combination of flavor compounds. Even within a single type of plant matter being burnt, there are more varieties of smoke than there are regional BBQ styles. Meathead explains why for all of them, you want to produce blue smoke:
“It’s burning at higher temperature, it’s burning cleaner, you get fewer impurities in the smoke, you get less char, and it just gives you a better flavor […] If you’ve ever gone to a barbecue competition, and you look at these what they call ‘stick burners,’ or smokers that cook with logs, there’s very little wood in there, and it’s all burning fast and hot with flame. The particle sizes are so small that they’re next to invisible.”